Getting Ready for Guests

Besides cups of spiced eggnog, late-night office parties, and kisses under the mistletoe, for many of us, the holiday season also brings…guests. This is especially true if you live in a sought-after destination like our San Francisco. But whether the thought of friends and family camping out on your sofa bed triggers excitement or dread (or maybe a bit of both), I have three simple-to-follow suggestions guaranteed to make the whole experience an easy one for you, and a special one for them.

1. Prepare in advance. For many us, hosting guests can be stressful. But in part, that’s because we’re rushing around at the last minute trying to clean up our home, or fill the fridge moments before they arrive, or worse…after they arrive. If it seems like you’re always scrambling when it’s time to entertain out-of-towners, then make a list of what needs to be done, and work on it a day or two before they roll into town.

2. Become a hotel. One of the easiest ways to prepare for hosting guests is to imagine your home as a hotel or bed-and-breakfast—because that’s what it will be for your guests. While you don’t need to strive for four-star service, consider the amenities that hotels keep in guest rooms, and you’ll have an idea of what to prepare for a “guest kit.” Take care of the basics first. Make sure your home is stocked with easy-to-grab snacks and small water bottles so that your guests can take them on their way out. Gather together linens such as towels, washcloths, and sheets, along with fresh bars of soap or shower gel, and have them ready for your guests when they arrive. Put the ironing board, iron, and spray water bottle in an easily accessible location, and show your guests where to find it. Most travelers come complete with cell phone (and charger), so point them in the direction of the power outlet. Think about the basics that you’d want or need, and prepare the same for your guests.

3. Think of yourself as a concierge. Many people feel that they need to be a tour guide, chauffer, and chef to their guests. Instead of running your guests around (and yourself ragged), give them options and let them decide what to do. Imagine yourself as a concierge—a gateway to services and entertainment—rather than as a tour guide. Get a good tour book of San Francisco, along with copies of current issues of local weekly magazines, and your guests can choose from among the multitude of things to do, places to see, and cuisines to enjoy. If you know that your guests have special interests or needs, make a few notes of attractions, events, or restaurants that they might like, and add them to the entertainment package. Make sure to obtain a new Muni map, the phone numbers to cab companies, and give these to your guests along with the rest of the bundle.

This holiday season, give yourself a gift—the gift of a stress-free hosting experience. Not only will you actually be able to enjoy their company instead of running last minute errands, or having to put your life on hold giving tours of the city, but your guests will have one of their most memorable stays in San Francisco, and will count your attention to their needs as a wonderful part of that experience!

Joshua Zerkel, Professional Organizer

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